A strong contingent of RSC Belgium members and friends were at the inspiring closing conference for the IUPAC/UNESCO International Year of Chemistry 2011 at the new Square Brussels Meeting Centre on 1 December. Leading figures from the international chemistry community gave their views on the importance of chemistry to solving major global issues, but perhaps the most inspiring visions came from a group of younger people.
The ceremony was opened by HRH Prince Philippe of Belgium and insprational messages were given by Christian Jourquin, CEO of Solvay, European Commissioner for Research Maire Geoghegan-Quinn and IUPAC President Prof. Nicole Moreau.
There then followed a presentation from 13 young leaders drawn from academia and industry around the world. They described their vision of the world in 2050 and how the chemical sciences will make it a better place by addressing the challenges that confront society today.
The vision was presented via three imagined scenarios that were very well thought out and delivered in a thought provoking manner.
A response to these visions was provided by Ada Yonath, 2009 Nobel laureate for chemistry and Jean-Luc Bredas, 1997 Francqui prize winner. Representatives from UNESCO, the OECD, and the Polish Minister Deputy Minister of Economy Hanna Trojanowska also took part in the event along with chief executives representing global chemicals and pharmaceuticals companies.
Outside the main auditorium a small exhibition area featured the life of Maria Sklodowska-Curie, the IYC Global Water Experiment, the Global Stamp Competition, Climate Change, 'Life without Chemistry' and the video 'Chemistry: All about you'.
A great success
The closing ceremony of the International Year of Chemistry was a great success. It was wonderful to see such interest in the creativity and the potential of chemistry to address the challenges facing our societies. High level speakers and young leaders explored and debated how chemistry is vital for solving our most critical global problems including food, water, health, energy, habitat, and more.
However IYC 2011 doesn’t want to stop and the chemistry community is looking to build on the ideas and momentum generated during 2011. More information on the 2050 vision can be found here and a Facebook page has been set up to continue the interaction.